18 JUNE 2013
I was very disturbed to read that the SPDP vice-president Gines Ruwia has asked for the resignation of community leaders who supported Dr Tiki Lafe in the last election. To add to my grief and disbelief, Gines Ruwia also threatened to withhold a government grant for his own church, whose members were alleged to have supported Dr Tiki, unless the church denounced the G5.
Gines Ruwia obviously does not understand the concept of democracy, which is that the people in a community are free to support the party or people of their choice without any coercion or threats from anyone. Furthermore, Gines does not seem to realize that the grants allocated to churches and the allowances of community leaders are paid from the funds of the people, and not from SPDP’s or the BN’s pockets.
What Gines Ruwia has done amounts to holding the community leaders and churches to ransom, an abhorrent act which should be roundly condemned by all right-minded citizens. The attempt to turn the honoured and respected community leaders into mere minions of the BN government is a shameful and pathetic act, about which the SPDP should be embarrassed. Community leaders, just as any other individual, have their human rights and constitutional rights to freedom of choice and freedom of association. These rights are being violated by Gines Ruwia, and others like him who are trying to bully them into submission.
Threatening to return the allocation promised to the church and telling the church that they do not deserve it is high-handed behavior akin to persecution of the church. As a Christian and a member of the church committee, Gines should understand that the church teaches her members to vote for justice and fairness according to their conscience and it is not for him or anyone else to be judge and executioner of the church for how her members voted. The church must not be cowed by such threats. The same applies to any temples or mosques whose members may be coming under similar intimidation tactics.
This high-handed authoritarian intimidation of community leaders and the church reflects very poorly on Gines as an individual and leader of the party. I call upon William Mawan as the president of SPDP to reassure the community headman and the church that they will not be victimized for exercising their democratic rights.
ADUN N70 Ba’ Kelalan
Chairman, PKR Sarawak